Always Budget for a Chimney Inspection
As we get closer to winter, many of our neighbors in the Dedham and Cohasset, Massachusetts areas are preparing wood-burning fireplaces and heating stoves for the season. With rising fuel prices and other costs, many folks are cutting back on non-essentials and trying to save where they can. In case you’re wondering if it is absolutely necessary, here are four vital reasons why you should always budget for a chimney inspection.
Creosote Build-Up Can Cause a Chimney Fire
Excessive creosote build-up is the number one cause of chimney fires. Creosote is a natural byproduct created during the combustion of solid and fossil fuels. When burning wood logs in the fireplace, the creosote sticks to the damper, flue liner, and other components as smoke and fumes vent out the chimney. Eventually, the creosote hardens into a dark, tarry, and flammable substance. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a 1/8-inch or more of creosote is a fire hazard and should be removed. A spark from a hot ember can ignite the creosote and cause a chimney fire that can spread throughout the house resulting in property damage, injuries, and even death. Since it can be difficult for homeowners to determine whether there is excessive creosote in the chimney, you should always budget for a chimney inspection for fire prevention.
Flue Obstructions Can Push Harmful Vapors in Your Home
While you’re staying warm and toasty by the fireplace, critters outside are also looking for a cozy place to nest. Chimneys are a favorite spot for many small animals like birds, raccoons, and squirrels. On those cold, windy days, leaves and twigs that blow across your roof can land on top of your chimney. The accumulation of soot and creosote, animal nests, and other debris can cause a flue obstruction that restricts the venting of smoke and fumes. In addition, it can cause a backdraft that pushes smoke, soot, and debris out of the fireplace exposing family members to harmful carbon monoxide fumes. Preventing flue obstructions is one more reason to always budget for a chimney inspection.
Masonry Cracks Can Let Water in the Chimney
Winter weather can be harsh for masonry chimneys, and after years of prolonged exposure, tiny cracks can start to appear in bricks and mortar. Over time, these small cracks will grow into larger ones that can eventually cause the bricks to chip, crumble, or spall, leaving gaps in the mortar joints. Precipitation can leak through the cracks and damage the interior masonry, flue liner, and damper. Extensive masonry damage can also cause a partial or complete structural collapse. Yearly chimney inspections can detect tiny cracks in the masonry, cement crown, flue liner, and other chimney parts before they can grow into more severe chimney repairs.
Your Homeowners’ Insurance Policy May Require Annual Chimney Inspections
Many insurance carriers have a clause stating homeowner policies require annual chimney inspections for homes with fireplaces and heating stoves. However, if you don’t have regular chimney inspections to maintain your heating appliance properly, your insurance carrier may deny your claim if chimney damage occurs costing you big bucks. Therefore, make scheduling your annual chimney inspection a priority to avoid out-of-pocket costs for covered repairs.